10 Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows Of All Time, Definitively Ranked


10 Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows Of All Time, Definitively Ranked

On Sunday, February 4, 2018, millions of viewers tuned into watch one of the biggest sports events in the world, the Super Bowl. However, not everyone who watched the event was a football fan.


Many people are only interested in the national anthem performance and half-time show, both of which have become cultural spectacles in their own right. However, this wasn't always the case. Before Janet Jackson's Nipplegate, Left Shark and flying Gaga, halftime shows often featured marching bands and tributes to legends like Duke Ellington.

It wasn't until Michael Jackson's 1993 performance, which was the most-watched halftime show at the time, that the NFL made it a tradition to invite some of the world's biggest artists to entertain.

Let's take a trip down memory lane and revisit the best Super Bowl performances of all time:

10. Lady Gaga - 2017

Just like the Atlanta Falcons at the 2017 Super Bowl, Lady Gaga delivered a superb performance, but she couldn't dethrone Katy Perry, who holds the record for first place. The "Bad Romance" singer brought out all the stops, including strong vocals, aerials, back-to-back hits, a hint of patriotism, and a mic drop. She proved that unlike many pop stars today, her legacy will live on.

9. Diana Ross - 1996

Years before Lady Gaga and Beyonce took center stage at the Super Bowl, Diana Ross showed them how it was done with the diva-est performance. In addition to the stunning vocals and sea of dancers, she made sure her show wouldn't soon be forgotten by making the grandest exit ever: she flew out of the stadium in a helicopter.

8. Aerosmith, *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly - 2001

It may have been a new millennium, but Aerosmith, *NSYNC, Britney & co., reminded people that their beloved musicians were not going anywhere. The show had a little bit of rock, pop, rap, and R&B, which is a pretty accurate representation of America's music culture at the time. No wonder people went crazy over it.

7. Paul McCartney - 2005

Some have dubbed the show boring, especially considering it was the first halftime show after the Justin Timberlake and Janet controversy, but fans of the former Beatles band member beg to differ. McCartney played a solid four-song set featuring all of his classic hits like "Drive My Car" and "Hey Jude." Perhaps the lack of theatrics and a dance break is the reason why many don't rank this show higher, but there's no arguing that Sir McCartney gave one heck of a performance that deserves a spot in the top 10.

6. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band - 2009

After years of turning down the NFL's offer, "The Boss" finally gave in and he certainly did not disappoint. Springsteen oozed charisma as he belted out his classic rock hits like "Born to Run," and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out." He even brought out his retired Fender hybrid Telecaster-Esquire for the high-energy performance that proved that the new generation of artists still have nothing on Springsteen.

5. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson, Kid Rock, Nelly, and P. Diddy - 2004

Ah, the 2004 halftime show became one of the most memorable because of the awkward nip slip that occurred after Justin Timberlake accidentally ripped off a piece of Janet Jackson's top. Still, wardrobe malfunction aside, it deserves a spot in the top 5 because it was electrifying and every artist involved did their part just right.

4. Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, and Missy Elliot - 2015

The reigning queen of Super Bowl halftime shows raked in over 118 million views, making her performance the most watched halftime show ever. In 13 minutes, the pop star sang a colorful medley of her hits, introduced the world to Left Shark, and brought out special guests, including Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot, who, let's be honest, is why so many of us were glued to the television.

3. Beyonce featuring Destiny's Child - 2013

She may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there's no denying that Queen Bey's performance was one of the best we've seen in the last couple of decades. The short but sweet Destiny's Child reunion alone is enough to earn her a position among the top 3.

2. Prince - 2007

Justin Timberlake's tribute to the Purple One at the 2018 halftime show reminded us all of how iconic the late singer's Super Bowl performance was. It's going to be hard for anyone else to top the perfect momnt that was Prince singing "Purple Rain" while it poured. Legendary.

1. Michael Jackson - 1993

Just like how every national anthem performance will always be compared to Whitney Houston's, The King of Pop's halftime spectacle set the precedent for all future shows. Jackson took the event's musical break to a whole new level, and for that he deserves the number one spot.

Which Super Bowl halftime show is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.